We recently became aware that furniture giant IKEA had launched a vegan Cheese & Mushroom Toastie as part of their restaurant range. Although not exactly famed for their food offering, this was huge news in the vegan community as it demonstrated how seriously catering companies were taking out dietary requirements. Unfortunately Gateshead has yet to stock one so I haven’t had a chance to try it, but I’m happy to report that even our small store has a selection of vegan dishes we can partake in when we’re shopping for plants and cushions.
Produced by Tiffin, the UK’s largest independent wholesale sandwich supplier, IKEA also have a prepackaged Falafel option from the company’s Cafe Vegan range. This was available in our store, along with a selection of meat and dairy filled options too. Some may have seen Tiffin before at hospitals and universities, and I was pleased to see that catering providers are thinking about the move towards providing for those with ethical and sustainable consumption habits. I’ve heard that they offer a vegan sausage version, as well as some which feature hummus. At £2.95 it was on a par with supermarket pricing for sandwiches of a similar ilk. I’d have personally preferred to try the Toastie, however.
IKEA have recently refurbished their restaurants to give them a more modern feel. The menus have also had a bit of a revamp, although you will still find their classic meatballs served with a creamy Allemanstratten Savoury Sauce. I liked how functional and simple it used to be as it was in keeping with the rest of the store. It was basic, no-frills and consistent. It seems more choice has led to bigger queues, and we stood for 15 minutes waiting to finally reach the counter.
The allergen information isn’t prominently displayed which means you need to request the allergen menu to be completely certain of what’s SFV. This leads to further delays and I’d recommend getting the attention of a member of staff before you stand in line.
Wading through this folder I was able to discern that the Vegetable Pasta was fine for us to have minus the Garlic Bread. The website states the tomato sauce has 10 hidden veggies in it, but to me it seems no different to a supermarket jar variety. I think the £3.50 price tag is a bit steep when it was no bigger than a kids meal charged at £1.95. No alternative was offered in place of the removed bread and we paid extra for a side salad from the counter. I personally think this should have been included gratis instead.
The main draw for most folk to the IKEA restaurant has always been the meatballs. I recall Masterchef 2016 finalist Jack Layer even wrote a blog extolling their virtues. It was the blissful reward for navigating the Seventh Circle of Hades on a Saturday afternoon while trying to locate a vegetable peeler and a Dombas. As a vegan you can enjoy their Grönsaksbullar instead, which are made with chickpeas and an assortment of vegetables. You can’t have them with the creamy mash (unless you’re vegetarian) but are given kale and cauliflower rice as a substitute. The lingonberry jam accompaniment is SFV, which is just as well as the food would be quite dry otherwise. I’m not a big fan of these, it has to be said. You can pick them up in the shop to enjoy at home; the Rosti, some of the packet biscuits (like the Ginger Thins), Oatly Orange & Mango and SJÖRAPPORT (seaweed pearls) are also available. The veggie hot dogs (Quorn, FYI) in the Bistro are not vegan friendly so don’t be tempted!
You can now also pick up Sour Cream crisps in-store which are suitable for vegans, perfect for those who miss those from Pringles. More like a proper crisp than the famous brand, they are like a good quality cheese and onion crisp.
It has also transpired that the doughnuts for sale in the kiosk are also accidentally vegan. Great news for those who have missed picking up something to eat as they’re leaving the store. For those with allergy concerns please ask to check the folder in your branch for more information.
IKEA seem to be part of the growing trend that’s seeing compassionate dished made readily available in restaurants and shops across the UK – including the likes of Toby Carvery and Wagamama. Both have featured recently on the blog on account of their extensive vegan options. We hope this run through of the veggie options proves there’s more to the iconic Swedish brand than amusingly named storage units and meatballs.
Thanks for reading,
Have you tried the Tiffin Toasty yet? It would be great to hear what its like!